ImMApp: An immersive database of sound art
The ImMApp (Immersive Mapping Application) thesis addresses contemporary and historical sound art from a position informed by, on one hand, post-structural critical theory, and on the other, a practice-based exploration of contemporary digital technologies (MySQL, XML, XSLT, X3D). It proposes a critical ontological schema derived from Michel Foucault's Archaeology of Knowledge (1972) and applies this to pre-existing information resources dealing with sound art.
Firstly an analysis of print-based discourses (Sound by Artists. Lander and Lexier (1990), Noise, Water, Meat. Kahn (2001) and Background Noise: Perspectives on Sound Art. LaBelle (2006) is carried out according to Foucauldian notions of genealogy, subject positions, the statement, institutional affordances and the productive nature of discursive formation. The discursive field (the archive) presented by these major canonical texts is then contrasted with a formulation derived from Giles Deleuze and Felix Guattari: that of a 'minor' history of sound art practices.
This is then extended by media theory (McLuhan, Kittler, Manovich) into a critique of two digital sound art resources (The Australian Sound Design Project (Bandt and Paine (2005) and soundtoys.net Stanza (1998). The divergences between the two forms of information technologies (print vs. digital) are discussed. The means by which such digitised methodologies may enhance Foucauldian discourse analysis points onwards towards the two practice-based elements of the thesis.
Surface, the first iterative part, is a web-browser based database built on an Apache/MySQIlXML architecture. It is the most extensive mapping of sound art undertaken to date and extends the theoretical framework discussed above into the digital domain. Immersion, the second part, is a re-presentation of this material in an immersive digital environment, following the transformation of the source material via XSL-T into X3D. Immersion is a real-time, large format video, surround sound (5.ln.l) installation and the thesis concludes with a discussion of how this outcome has articulated Foucauldian archaeological method and unframed pre-existing notions of the nature of sound art.